Friday, December 30, 2011

Dear Family, Our 2012 Post-Holiday New Year Letter :)

Dear Family, Mostly Aunt Banana & Grandma & Grandpa! :)

Your thoughtfulness and generosity know no limits. I regret that in our holiday haste, we have lost track mostly of who gave what, but I do know a certain favorite few. Ok, so Daddy scored each of their favorites - Phoebe's DSIXL, and Christopher's Angry Birds board game and t-shirts, those are far and away their favorites. They both love Christopher's Bilibo chair. Phoebe absolutely adores her Spectra doll from NB, as well as the Liv Doll hairstyle head thing from Janet & Brooke. Christopher's second favorite is the train table - thank you NB! He enjoyed it as a table for a simple oval track for a few days, but I did get the city center installed by Thursday, and he does love it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

T'was the Night Before Christmas - Submarine Style by Sean Keck

T'was the night before Christmas, and what no-one could see,
The men with the dolphins were under the sea.
Most of the crew was flat on their backs,
Snoring and dreaming all snug in their racks.

Those men on watch were making their rounds,
Some manning the planes or listening for sounds.
Back in maneuvering or down in the room,
They all hoped the oncoming watch would come soon.

I'd finished some PMs whose time was now due,
And hoped for some sleep, even an hour or two.
Against better judgment I took a short stroll,
And found myself wandering into control.

The Nav had the Conn, the COW was in place,
The COB had the Dive and a scowl on his face.
The helm and the planes were relaxed but aware,
The QM and ET were discussing a dare.

To comply with the orders the Nav told the Dive,
To bring the boat up with minimum rise.
The orders were given and soon they were there,
At periscope depth with a scope in the air.

The QM confirmed our position with care,
The broadcast was copied, we brought in some air.
The Nav on the scope let out a small cry,
He shook his head twice and rubbed at his eyes.

He looked once again to find what it was,
That interrupted his sweep and caused him to pause.
Try as he might there was nothing to see,
So down went the scope and us to the deep.

I asked what it was that caused his dismay,
He sheepishly said, "I'm embarrassed to say."
It could have been Northern Lights or a cloud,
Or a meteorite he wondered aloud.

But to tell you the truth I guess I must say,
Whatever it was it looked like a sleigh.
And though it passed quickly and never was clear,
I almost believe it was pulled by reindeer.

We laughed and teased him and I got up to go,
When our moment was broken by "Conn, Radio."
They told us a message was just coming in,
We looked at the depth gauge and started to grin.

"Radio, Conn, I feel safe to say,
Your attempt at a joke is too long delayed.
If it had been sooner it might have been neat,
But I doubt we're receiving at four-hundred feet."

"Conn, Radio, you can come down and see,
We're not playing games to any degree."
I headed aft with nothing better to do,
Surprised by the fact it was still coming through.

It stopped and was sent to control to be read,
The Nav read it slowly and scratched at his head.
Then again he began but this time aloud,
To those that now waited, a curious crowd.

"To you Denizens of the Deep and men of the sea,
Who risk your life daily so others stay free.
I rarely have seen you on this, my big night,
For far too often you are hidden from sight.

But purely by luck I saw you tonight,
As your scope coaxed the plankton to glow in the night.
And lucky for me I've finally won,
The chance to say thanks for all you have done.

I know that you miss your families at home,
And sometimes you feel as if you're alone.
But trust what I say and I'll do what's right,
I'll take something special to your families tonight.

Along with the gifts I'll take to your kin,
I'll visit their dreams and leave word within.
They'll hear of your love, and how you miss them,
I'll tell them that soon you'll be home again.

It might not be much I know that is true,
To thank you for all the things that you do.
But I'll do what I can, while you do what's right,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It Is No Measure of Health

It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society. ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

Monday, December 5, 2011

School Fall Portraits

The "packages" they offer for school portraits are absurdly expensive, and they want us to order them in advance, which we are reluctant to do - what if the kids don't cooperate and the photos come out hinky? So we sent them both to school on picture day with no pre-paid package order, knowing we'd be able to buy them online after-the-fact.

Christopher's photo came out adorable!

And Phoebe's photo is the absolute epitome of Phoebe! Phoebe and I have a deal - she pics out her Fall outfit, but I get to pick her Spring portraits outfit. So she chose her clothes and accessories, and I didn't even require she brush her hair if she didn't want to (which she usually doesn't). I love it! And look at that skin - she's so beautiful!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Talk Talk Talk & Draw Draw Draw

Christopher has taken a turn for the talkative! and artsy! We're past parroting and echoing now, he's using real phrases, expressing his own thoughts, trying to have real conversation - it's so wonderful!! :) And at the same time he's developed this new-found interest - and skill - at drawing! Where before he couldn't (or wouldn't) make straight lines or attempt circles, he's now drawing people, with faces and eyes and "toes" (that look like really really long legs) and ears and hair, and trees, apple trees specifically. It's like the flood gates are open! And of course we're SO loving it! Oh, I wonder what's next!?


I am most thankful this year that my son is talking! But I'm not to keen on having to pick and choose between which Thanksgivings to attend - my neighbor Janet's noon Thanksgiving is a huge big fun deal, then my sister's Thanksgiving is the first in her own home - don't want to miss that, and JR's sister is having a huge Thanksgiving at his Mom's too - and I know how much it means for his Mom to see the kids. I guess I'm thankful that I don't have to put together a big deal meal at my house! :) Most likely the best thing will be for us to share in the early one at Janet's, then JR & Phoebe head to Richmond, and Christopher & I head to Dianne's. Being apart isn't ideal, but neither of us really mind, which is in itself rather unfortunate.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Anyone can become angry - that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way - that is not easy. ~Aristotle

Friday, November 4, 2011

Biggie in My Blog, on My Mind, and in My Heart

I realized recently that I've been avoiding blogging, because I don't want the RIP Biggie post to get pushed down. :( He was such a cool kitty, and I really miss him. This is one of my favorite photos, look how close in size Phoebe & Biggie are. :)

My intention is for this post to break posting aversion. No matter where he is on my blog, Mr. Bigs is at the front of my mine, and in the depths of my heart.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

RIP Biggie ♥

We are a heartbroken home today. Our beloved Biggie has been put to eternal rest. We are so sad to lose him, but are at ease knowing he's no longer sick with the cancer we didn't even know he had. :(

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Better, but not yet Well

Omg so whenever we thought JR's fever was gone, it came back with a vengeance! Poor guy had a 101+ fever from Friday 9/30 through Saturday 10/08! But finally, finally! he's feeling better. Better Sunday. More better Monday. Still not 100%, but I am able to work, and he is able to handle the kids. Now if we can just escape the kids getting it I will be so relieved. Me too, I don't want it either.

Substitute his iPad for the teddy bear, but this was JR for nine days. MISERABLE.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Viral Crud

Phew - what a long weekend! JR came down with a fever Friday, walk-in clinic doc prescribed TamiFlu despite negative flu swab, which only exaccerbated all his symptoms and made him miserable! Regular doc said it was just common viral crud, took him off the Rx, and he got to feeling better very quickly. The fever did last through Tuesday, and he's certainly not 100% but no longer stuck in bed in the fetal position huddled under the covers. I so hope the kids and I don't get it!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time to Walk the Talk

Ok, I'm stepping up to my sister's challenge, let the MBA begin! :)

He Loves Phoebe Too :)

Phoebe had been discouraged because Christopher didn't return her silly/gruff "I Love You" as readily as he had returned mine, but I told her that it took me three days (a slight exaggeration), and that seemed to bolster her determination. Finally last night Christopher did tell Phoebe "I Yuv U 2" and it put a big smile on her face. I long for genuine Phoebe/Christopher sibling interaction almost as much as I longed to hear Christopher's sweet little voice, it warms my heart to see the early signs of that developing relationship. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

He Said "I Love You"! :) ♥

Well, actually, it was "I Yuv U!" :) I noticed recently that I get his attention quickly and easily when I use my super-silly scrunched-faced gruff voice, and that it encourages him to repeat what I've said, so on Friday I started with that silly/snuggly/gruff talk, and in short order he replied back w/his equally-silly scrunched-faced gruff "I Yuv U!" I am one happy Momma!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Considering a Master's Degree

My dear sister has finished her first degree and is going straight into her master's program. It's inspiring. She's actually got me considering an advanced degree for myself too. Going to school might actually be easier than keeping up w/my student loan! Plus, I never intended to go this long without continuing my education. Hm...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Walking for LMC | Walk for Autism Virginia

I've signed up for my first Autism-related activity, a 5k run/walk on Sat 10/22. I'd be honored if people walked with me. I'd be happy if people donated in support of my efforts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Christopher is adding new words to his vocabulary so fast I can barely keep up! :) Many of his words are difficult to understand, but some of them are clear as day despite his mispronunciations. His most adorable recent addition is "Oops!" which he started after very deliberate "accidental" falls - he'll run run run, then sit down quickly and say Oops! Or he'll walk up to you with a big grin, turn around and back into you and say Oops. Or very deliberately knock something over and say Oops. He leaves out the 'p' tho, so he's saying Ooo's, which sounds like Ooots. He's the cutest thing ever.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Scholastic Book Club

I typically discard the Scholastic Book Club flyers that Phoebe brings home, but I thought maybe I'd share Phoebe's reading interests in case anyone would prefer to buy books instead of toys for future gift-giving occassions. Sign up at and click "Register" in the "First Time Here?" section. Register for your own user name and password. When prompted, enter the one-time class activation code "DVVD6" to ensure orders are sent to Phoebe's teacher. Every online order (except eBooks) earns a free book for the classroom.

She brought home both "Lucky" (Grades 2 & 3) and "Arrow" (Grades 4, 5, & 6) flyers, in which she circled the "Dork Diaries" series, "Scratch It! Jewels", an "Owls Stationery Box", the "Rainbow Magic Night Fairies Boxed Set" and a matching "Paint Your Own Night Fairies Kit". I told her I preferred that she circle actual books, but that others might be willing to buy the crafty/toy-type items, but I would not. September's orders are due by the 23rd.

Happy 8th Birthday My Little Phoebe!

The party Saturday was a raging success! We had eleven little guests, we started with an impromptu Wii Fit Plus Obstacle Course Challenge, we played Pin the Bow on the Skull (it was a "Monster High" party), we were going to bob for apples (but it was too chilly, the kids snacked up a third of the apples, Christopher bit into each of another third, and we didn't have a suitable bobbing tub), we had a spaghetti dinner, the kids played outside for a few minutes, we opened gifts, we sang happy birthday and had a grocery store sheet cake upon which I had iced a Monster High skull, and then the grande finale - the kids THOROUGHLY enjoyed strawberries and Dianne's chocolate fountain!

Then six of the eleven spent the night, we had a second round of spaghetti dinner, played with all the birthday presents, played Wii Just Dance 2, probably did hundreds of cartwheels, rough-housed a bit (wait til you see the blurred action shots!), negotiated the sleeping arrangements, setup the sleeping area, and put on the Disney Channel. The younger girls were asleep by 0045, and the older ones probably feel asleep after I set the TV timer to go off at 0130. The younger girls were awake by 0730, played by themselves until they woke me at 0830, the remaining girls woke at 0930, we had a chocolate chip pancake and sausage breakfast, and played more Wii Just Dance until parents picked everybody up at noon. Except Rachel whom we took with us to Aunt Banana's for another cake and another Orbeez present (Yay!), we had to make the girls stop watching TV to play with AJ, had a yummy cheeseburger and tater-tot dinner, and headed home at 1900.  Phoebe showered, Christopher bathed, then we slept. It was an awesome all-Phoebe weekend. :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Neurological Evaluation

We also had a neurological evaluation this morning at CNMC. Their assessment, basically, is that his hand thing is most likely not neurological, but more likely typical autistic self-stimulation. If he were entering some altered state of consciousness during the tremor, or if it was exclusively one side, or if it was whole-body, then perhaps they would be more inclined to suspect seizure activity. But because it's so focused, and because his schedule has changed a lot lately with the new school year, they are inclined to think it is just self-soothing. The tremors also seem to be subsiding as suddenly as they onset, which also contributes to the theory that it's not neurological. They started Saturday, maxed Wednesday, and we haven't seen any yet today. We will continue to watch him closely ourselves, and are scheduled for a two-month neuro follow-up, at which time we might schedule an EEG if he continues to have any worrisome symptoms. Phew.

Nutritional Biochemist

We saw nutritional biochemist Dr. Laura Power yesterday. She was amazing. I was impressed with both her knowledge of and passion for the science of nutritional biochemistry. It was mostly an observational evaluation, because Christopher has never had any blood work done which she could review. She did order extensive blood work, a complex urinalysis, and a mineral hair analysis - all of which will take a few weeks after we have his blood drawn and collect the urine and hair samples and send those all off to the labs. She seemed confidently optimistic that we would see improvements in Christopher once we identified any deficiencies and started a supplement program.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Christopher's Hands

Here is a short video in which Christopher's hand is just spasming away.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Neurological? Symptom

I noticed Saturday that Christopher's hand was flinching. His right hand was open, but fingers curled, it was kind of an open-fisted spasm. I noticed it several times Saturday and Sunday. When I mentioned it to JR Sunday he said that he had seen it, but thought it was a sign of frustration, we didn't speak specifically about when we had each first observed it. I did email his Pediatric Developmental Specialist, Dr. Pratt, to report the onset of a new symptom and to request a neurological evaluation. When I got home yesterday I observed that it was already obviously more often and more intense - a triple-flinch vice a single-flinch - and I saw it in both hands. I spoke with JR to get clarification on how long ago he had noticed it, and he too had only seen it this past weekend, and we are both alarmed with its apparent quick onset. I emailed Dr. Pratt again this morning to relay my sense of urgency, and she said to tell the neurology department that she said it was an urgent matter so that we could be seen sooner than later. Well the neurology department said their first availability wasn't until Dec 21st! So I am waiting now to hear back from Dr. Pratt to see if she can't get us in sooner than that - more like immediately. If she can't, we will seek a neuro consult elsewhere.

I often speak to Christopher as if he perfectly well understands me. He might. Probably not, but maybe. I told him yesterday that we can deal with whatever he decides to throw our way, but he's not allowed to get worse -  only better. Hopefully he's onboard with that plan.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Plantar Fascitis, Lumbar Spondylothesis, & Arthritis w/a Bone Spur

I must be getting old.

Once upon a time I was strictly a heels 'n hose girl, I wouldn't even wear shoes that made that awful flip flap sound, much less a pair of actual flip flops. Then I went to the shipyard and gave up on hose, but still avoided shoes that went flip flap - except one favorite pair of heels that was dressy enough to overlook that most unprofessional sound. Then I returned to DC and somehow lost my last shred of femenine professionalism, and spent this ENTIRE SUMMER - work included - in a pair of black gemmed flip flop thongs. Which has resulted in an uncomfortable case of plantar fascitis (self-diagnosed).

The Spondylothesis was medically diagnosed, over a year ago, with some arthritis and a bone spur to go with it, but I don't do the exercises I'm supposed to do to strengthen my core, so it's not improving.

Nothing like back pain to make a girl feel old! And the plantar fascitis makes me hobble around in the morning, feeling weak and unstable. My caffeine and nicotine breakfast habit doesn't help much either. I really need to invest in myself - the time, energy, and smart decision-making to make me FEEL better.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Ten Years Later

I didn't spend much time today thinking about 9/11/2001. I let myself stay busy with the kids instead, and even took a nap with Christopher. But that beautiful Tuesday morning will never fade from my memory. I was on a shuttle bus from the Pentagon to Rosslyn when we heard about the 2nd plane hitting the Towers. An Air Force guy on the bus expressed his hope that it was a flying accident. I remember thinking how optimistically naive that was, and wondering if he really believed that. I was supporting the Dual Use Science & Technology (DUS&T) Program, an OSD program under the Director, Defense Research & Engineering (DDR&E), whose offices were temporarily located in Rosslyn due to ongoing Pentagon renovations. I don't remember the details of my day, but I do remember my friend and colleague, Jan Wilson, who was pregnant with her first child, asking "What kind of world am I bringing this child into?!" Then the plane hit the Pentagon. That was much closer to home than the Twin Towers. We were scared. Were we safe? How many other attacks would there be? Would it last all day? all week? What was happening to our lives? Many people headed straight home. Those of us without our cars stayed at work. We all huddled into the little lobby-level cafe, silently glued to the small television, with slack or quivering jaws and tear-filled eyes. We watched the towers come down, first one, then the other. We could only imagine how many people might still be inside. We couldn't fathom the losses. We had no words. I don't remember how I got home (to very nearby Lloyd Apartments, on Tennessee Ave). I remember talking to JR, he was at AIT and had had difficulty reaching me. I don't remember talking to Dianne, but I think I did. I spent the rest of the day crying and watching the news. I VHS recorded many hours of it, I think I still have that tape somewhere. Planes were grounded, the busy skies grew immediately and eerily silent. Washington National is a VERY busy, one plane per minute airport, the noise of which I had never considered until it fell silent. The only noise from our skies was the occassional military aircraft, deploying to God knows where for God knows what mission. No news choppers. No commercial flights. No cargo flights. Then, when flights did resume, several days later I think, I remember looking up every time I heard a plane, wondering if I would ever see/hear planes the same again (I do, now). I don't remember the rest of that week, surely we didn't return to work, did we? But then eventually we did. We hung our flags. We mourned our dead. We resumed our flights. We went back to work. But it was different. We donated blood. We spoke kindly to strangers. We looked one another in the eye. We embraced our freedoms, thankful to be Americans. Some of us grew angry. Some of us gave up hope. Some children turned into men that week and joined the Armed Services. I wasn't a mother yet then, but I can only imagine the collective motherhood cringed with grief and fear of what was happening to our children. How do our babies, whom I believe are born innocent and pure, turn into the monsters we have among us today.

Well Done :)

Christopher recently started adding something that sounds like "Wull Dun" to the end of many of his many ABCs or 123s, I was delighted to learn from JR that he is telling himself "Well Done!" :) It's the cutest darn thing. And lately he's added "Good Job" so it's "Wull Dun Good Job!"

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Counting by Two & a Lips Kiss!

I napped with Christopher both Friday and Saturday - a rare and delightful luxury. When we woke up Friday afternoon, he said "two" which I figured meant we were going to count to ten for the forty-millionth time. With Christopher, in order to proceed from one letter to the next, or from one number to the next, it requires we repeat everything he says. So I said my "two" and was expecting three, but to my utter delight and astonishment, he instead counted by two's all the way to 26! without hesitation! He rattled it off as if he'd been doing it for weeks. I wonder how much else is in there, all ready, just waiting to come out.

And then, even better, in my excitement about that, I asked for a kiss, which has previously always meant he presents his little cheek for ME to kiss, and instead he gave me an actual kiss on the lips! I was so delighted! ♥

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Christopher's Language

Christopher has been talking up a storm this past week! He's getting better at some of his more difficult alphabet characters, namely W, and he seems to be showing off his knowledge of all the words he knows associated with each letter. We used to step through the alphabet with a standard set of words: A, Apple, B, Ball, C, Cat, D, Dog, etc., he's now prone to using other words where he knows them, E might be Egg or Elephant, K might be Key or Kangaroo, J might be Juice or Jacket - he's definitely making language progress. :)

Hurricane Irene

Was reported to look "terrifying" from space. We never even lost power.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blog Pages

Been payin' some attention to my blog. I like it. I wish I could password protect some of the content tho, so I'm not done tinkering.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Phoebe to Selena Gomez at Hershey Park

My baby girl has been invited to a concert! :) Rachel's Mom Susan is taking the girls to Hershey Park this weekend. She is so excited! My first concert was not until my 21st birthday, James Taylor at King's Dominion. I'm so glad that Phoebe is getting this opportunity early in life. This will be her first out-of-town trip without Mom or Dad, but it's only over one night, and she'll be with her little bff and "Mom#2" so I know she's going to be fine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

ABA versus Son-Rise

There appears to be some very fundamental differences between two leading programs for the treatment of Autism. This account of the differences is from the Son-Rise side.

ABA vs The Son-Rise Program

Understanding of Autism
The Son-Rise Program
Sees Autism as a behavioral disorder, with behaviors to be either extinguished or reinforcedSees Autism as a social interactivity disorder, where the central deficit is relating to other people
The child needs structure and must learn to sit appropriately, follow a schedule, and comply with requestsHelping the child to be flexible and spontaneous enables him/her to handle change and enjoy human interaction

Area of Focus
The Son-Rise Program
Changing the behavior of the childCreating a relationship with the child
Seeks to “extinguish” the child’s repetitive “stimming” behaviorUses “joining” technique to participate in the child’s repetitivebehavior

Method of Teaching New Skills
The Son-Rise Program
Repetition – Uses discrete trials or similar method to prompt the child to perform a behavior (followed by a reward) over and over again until the child has demonstrated masteryMotivation – Builds the child’s own interests into every game or activity so that the child is excited, “comes back for more,” generalizes skills, and relates naturally rather than robotically

Areas of Learning
The Son-Rise Program
Often focuses on academic skillsAlways teaches socialization first
Sees academic areas such as math as an excellent way to help the childcompensate for lack of social skillsSeeks not to help the childcompensate for social skills deficits but rather to overcome them

The Role of the Parents
The Son-Rise Program
Professionals are the major players, with parents having a more observational roleParents are given the most central role because their love, dedication, and experience with their child is unmatched

The Role of the Facilitator’s Attitude
The Son-Rise Program
Sees attitude as largely irrelevant, with effective application of behavior shaping techniques being what mattersSees attitude as vitally important, since having a non-judgmental and welcoming attitude determines whether the child feels safe and relaxed enough to interact and learn

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ABA Therapy

I love my friend Jan's encouraging words from the last post. :)


from Wikipedia

ABA is defined as the science in which the principles of the analysis of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior, and in which experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for change in behavior.

Baer, Wolf, and Risley's 1968 article is still used as the standard description of ABA. It describes the seven dimensions of ABA: application; a focus on behavior; the use of analysis; and its technological, conceptually systematic, effective, and general approach. Baer, Wolf, and Risley's seven dimensions are:

Applied: ABA focuses on areas that are of social significance. In doing this, behavior scientists must take into consideration more than just the short-term behavior change, but also look at how behavior changes can affect the consumer, those who are close to the consumer, and how any change will affect the interactions between the two.

Behavioral: ABA must be behavioral, i.e.: behavior itself must change, not just what the consumer says about the behavior. It is not the goal of the behavior scientists to get their consumers to stop complaining about behavior problems, but rather to change the problem behavior itself. In addition, behavior must be objectively measured. A behavior scientist cannot resort to the measurement of non-behavioral substitutes.

Analytic: The behavior scientist can demonstrate believable control over the behavior that is being changed. In the lab, this has been easy as the researcher can start and stop the behavior at will. However, in the applied situation, this is not always as easy, nor ethical, to do. According to Baer, Wolf, and Risley, this difficulty should not stop a science from upholding the strength of its principles. As such, they referred to two designs that are best used in applied settings to demonstrate control and maintain ethical standards. These are the reversal and multiple baseline designs. The reversal design is one in which the behavior of choice is measured prior to any intervention. Once the pattern appears stable, an intervention is introduced, and behavior is measured. If there is a change in behavior, measurement continues until the new pattern of behavior appears stable. Then, the intervention is removed, or reduced, and the behavior is measured to see if it changes again. If the behavior scientist truly has demonstrated control of the behavior with the intervention, the behavior of interest should change with intervention changes.

Technological: This means that if any other researcher were to read a description of the study, that researcher would be able to "replicate the application with the same results." This means that the description must be very detailed and clear. Ambiguous descriptions do not qualify. Cooper et al. describe a good check for the technological characteristic: "have a person trained in applied behavior analysis carefully read the description and then act out the procedure in detail. If the person makes any mistakes, adds any operations, omits any steps, or has to ask any questions to clarify the written description then the description is not sufficiently technological and requires improvement."

Conceptually Systematic: A defining characteristic is in regards to the interventions utilized; and thus research must be conceptually systematic by only utilizing procedures and interpreting results of these procedures in terms of the principles from which they were derived.

Effective: An application of these techniques improve behavior under investigation. Specifically, it is not a theoretical importance of the variable, but rather the practical importance (social importance) that is essential.

Generality: It should last over time, in different environments, and spread to other behaviors not directly treated by the intervention. In addition, continued change in specified behavior after intervention for that behavior has been withdrawn is also an example of generality.

In 2005, Heward, et al. added their belief that the following five characteristics should be added:

Accountable: Direct and frequent measurement enables analysts to detect their success and failures to make changes in an effort to increase successes while decreasing failures. ABA is a scientific approach in which analysts may guess but then critically test ideas, rather than "guess and guess again." This constant revision of techniques, commitment to effectiveness and analysis of results leads to an accountable science.

Public: Applied behavior analysis is completely visible and public. This means that there are no explanations that cannot be observed. There are no mystical, metaphysical explanations, hidden treatment, or magic. Thus, ABA produces results whose explanations are available to all of the public.

Doable: ABA has a pragmatic element in that implementors of interventions can consist of a variety of individuals, from teachers to the participants themselves. This does not mean that ABA requires one simply to learn a few procedures, but with the proper planning, it can effectively be implemented by most everyone willing to invest the effort.

Empowering: ABA provides tools to practitioners that allow them to effectively change behavior. By constantly providing visual feedback to the practitioner on the results of the intervention, this feature of ABA allows clinicians to assess their skill level and builds confidence in their technology.

Optimistic: According to several leading authors, practitioners skilled in behavior analysis have genuine cause to be optimistic for the following reasons: Individual behavior is largely determined by learning and cumulative effects of the environment, which itself is manipulable; Direct and continuous measurements enable practitioners to detect small improvements in performance that might have otherwise been missed; As a practitioner uses behavioral techniques with positive outcomes, the more they will become optimistic about future success prospects; The literature provides many examples of success teaching individuals considered previously unteachable.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Son Has Autism

JR says he knew it in his heart anyway, and obviously we were well aware of his developmental delay and that he needs special support, but I wasn't prepared for my own emotional reaction to the diagnosis. :( My little guy needs SUPER-parents, and we're just regular, figuring it out as we go, struggling ourselves parents - and I'm worried that might not be enough for him. I know that our love for Christopher will drive us to do the very best we can, but we're the first to admit that we are already struggling with the basics, where do we find the strength to do even better? And can we do more/better for Christopher without affecting our ability to also do our very best for Phoebe? I know what happens at work when my plate gets too full - things start falling off the edges - and that's just not an option when the plate is full of my children's well-being.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Developmental Specialist

Yay! I finally got an appointment for Christopher with a Pediatric Developmental Specialist! Dr. Jacquelyn Lucile Calbert. We were (are still) waitlisted with both Doctors Panitz & Pearl, but I was still looking for someone who could see him sooner. Dianne suggested one of the pediatricians at AJ's pediatrician's office, Dr. Farber, but when I called to schedule with him they clarified that he wasn't a developmental specialist, although he does take interest in developmental pediatrics, but they did refer me to three specialists - one of whom had an immediate availability. Phew. Dr. Calbert, like Dr. Pearl, is affiliated with the highly-regarded Children's National, so I'm good w/that.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Set Black Flag Conditions

As of 1415 on 18 July 11 set Black Flag conditions and take necessary precautions as stated below when performing physical activity. Black Flag (WBGTI of 90 and above degrees F): All nonessential physical activity will be halted.

Ok, it's been 90+ and 95+ and even 100+ already this summer, with no Blag Flag. Why today? Hm.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Carpool

So, I scored this SWEET carpool arrangement! It's a 9.5hr workday, so I need to figure out what to do w/that extra hour (workout? alternate Mondays or Fridays off?). But the best part is that my neighbor and friend, Ben, runs the carpool, and he and his carpool cohorts all work for Naval Reactors ("NR"), the most prestigious group within our organization, they all get garage parking, reserved spots. That's a luxury very few others enjoy. So my new ride is practically door-to-door, saving me tons, much less stressful, and is more convenient than I ever could have hoped for, it's great! :) The only thing is... I have to get out of bed at 0600. at the latest. I'll get used to it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Half Gone

OMG, 2011's half gone! I can't stand it.
Slow down, world! Let me catch up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Midnight Orange

Some time ago, I stumbled upon an artist whose work sometimes brings me to tears. I've never purchased anything of hers, but do read her infrequent blog posts and follow her Etsy shop. The story of why she sculpts child angels always touches me, and I noticed when reading it today that she hopes the story is widely shared.

She sculpted the "Harvest" below for Christopher's mother commemorating his angelversary. :) Many other heartfelt and beautiful pieces at

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Phoebe on Two Wheels!! :)

She did it! I arrived home yesterday to find Phoebe's friend Samara graciously pushing Phoebe all around on her two-wheel bike - doing all the balancing and propulsion - poor Samara looked exhausted! So I (despite no food and no energy) relieved Samara of her duties and took Phoebe to a small grassy hill in our courtyard. She whined and pleaded and wanted to chicken out, but I told her it was either ride it or put it away. She reluctantly got on. She begged me to not let go. I assured her I wouldn't (I was lying). I ran along with her holding the seat for a split second, and when I saw that she was in fact balancing herself, I gave a little shove for momentum and off she went! She was so excited and proud of herself! The first words out of her mouth were "That was fun!" and her little gaggle of neighborhood friends confirmed for her that it gets even more and more fun with practice. We spent another hour walking up and fearlessly riding down the little hill. She's still working on steering, and stopping, and momentum (hard to do in grass), but with the balance part down, she'll be zipping and zooming around in no time.

I continue to be amazed at how very very much I enjoy such moments with my children. I was all sweaty, still in my work clothes, exhausted and weak, and delighted to my core. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spontaneous New Outfit

I headed to work this morning in stinky shoes, a skirt that was too snug, and a top that was too hot. I stopped at Target to get cash to take to Phoebe at school so she could purchase a school yearbook, and got lured into the women's clothing section to explore the possibility of a more comfortable skirt. I immediately found a delightful little $24.99 summer dress, which - low and behold - fit perfectly, which never happens when I am actually clothes shopping. That little victory sent me into the shoe dept where I found an equally delightful little pair of strappy black patent sandals for $19.99 that I couldn't resist. I paid for my purchase, changed in the Target restroom, and headed to work feeling pretty and very summery. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011


In an effort to reduce my Mocha intake, I didn't commit to actually drinking more water, instead I commited to just make it readily available at my desk. Low and behold... it's working! It used to be that I would consume one 16-20oz coffee for the drive in, another 20oz Mocha for my morning workload, and then maybe another large Mocha for the ride home! Now I skip the home coffee, treat myself to one Mocha for the ride in, make it last halfway through my morning workload, then switch to water. And the warmer weather is naturally making me skip the afternoon Mocha in favor of something icy-cold instead. These changes, combined with my recent bout of nausea, have already taken the tension in my snug waistband down a notch.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Mothers Day from Christopher

I so enjoy receiving little crafty preschool gifts that I had no hand in researching, setting up, executing, or cleaning up after! :)

I'm Happy You're My Mom
"I'm happy you're my mom,
'Cause you take good care of me.
You love me and you show it,
So I'm as happy as can be!
I love you very much.
And so I want to say,
Thank you for all you do,
and Happy Mother's Day!"
by Joanna Fuchs

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Our two children have been raised primarily by their stay-at-home-Dad because we are ADAMANT about their security, safety, and general wellbeing. But now after 7+yrs, Dad is ready to rejoin the workforce, and so we're looking for the perfect person to watch our children. Must have experience and references, and an obvious love of children. Any successful candidate will, as a minimum, be able to support our remaining school schedule through mid-June plus a full-time summer schedule through the end of August.

Initial childcare schedule will be 8am to 4:30pm on Mondays, and Noon to 4:30pm Tuesdays through Fridays, with additional hours required to support the Fairfax County Public Schools published calendar. Summer childcare schedule will be 8am to 4:30pm Mon-Fri.

Preferred candidates will earn more to stay and do dinner preparation and/or housekeeping. I will consider any combination of regular or occassional housekeeping, and will give high preference to the provider who could also take over the household grocery shopping, plan our meals, and prepare family dinners Monday through Friday.

English fluency/proficiency is a must, as our preschool son is experiencing slight language and developmental delay - we need someone who can work with him constantly on his communications and basic life skills (speaking, listening, self-feeding, self-dressing, potty training, etc).

My ideal candidate might be a Mom, who may either bring her one young child with her, or whose children are older and already independent. Or my ideal candidate might be a teacher whose schedule is a perfect fit and has lots of experience managing varying degrees of childhood chaos. Or my ideal candidate might a spunky Grandma who can keep up with the high-energy and high-spirits of young children. Or my ideal candidate might be a college student who may be specializing in early childhood development or special education who works with kids every summer. Or my ideal candidate might be . . . you.

Oh, we have two cats and a huge drooly dog. You absolutely must be totally okay with that. And by huge I mean a 100+lb Rotty.

Don't Get Your Hopes Up. Yeah, Right!

JR is interviewing for a more-than-fulltime job at 11:30am Monday. He has many reservations, but I've managed to encourage him past them to at least go through the interview process and see if he gets an offer. He worries about many 'what if' scenarios, like what if he is expected to start immediately, what if we can't find daycare, what if he hates it, what if he doesn't make any money, what if he doesn't even get the job, what if the kids don't adjust well, or what if something happens w/Christopher and he can't tell us about it. My attitude, towards all of that, is that we'll cross those bridges if/when we get to them. If he does get the job and is expected to start immediately, I'll take some unscheduled leave and put a daycare plan togehter. I expect it's more likely that if he gets the job he'll have a week or two before his start date, during which we'll put the daycare plan together.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blog Wordle

A recent inquiry got me back on Wordle, just saving this for a later in the day project. :)

Love Life Laughter Motherhood Love Life Laughter Motherhood Adventure Charity Childhood Commitment Community Compassion Courage Devotion Empathy Equality Faith Family Generosity Grace Honor Hope Humility Humor Innocence Intactivism Integrity Joy Justice Kindness Nature Opportunity Optimism Possibility Purpose Spirituality Sportsmanship Strength Truth Whimsy World~Peace

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I always tell myself I miss camping, but maybe it's just that I really want to go glamping!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

from the DSFG Intranet

We've been in a collective tizzy about the potential furlough.I was actually looking forward to an unscheduled day or days off, but at the same time I was going to have to use leave, which I'd rather not do. I'm taking Wednesday off, I think, to chaperone a walking field trip for Phoebe's 2nd Grade class. I think it's kinda cool - her Elementary School is within walking distance to my College - they're walking over to GMU for some performing arts thing. :)